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Relations on College Campuses

I found Ore’s analysis of race relations and symbolic ethnicities on college campuses quite compelling as it gave light to situations that I undoubtedly have experienced as well as many of the students in this class. Ore says that sometimes late at night, drunken groups of White students coming home from parties will yell at single Black students on the street. She goes on to explain that Black students do experience a tension and a feeling of being singled out and that it is unfair that this is part of their college experience and not that of White students. While reading this text, I thought to myself, yes, she is exactly right. I thought to myself, how could situations like these be so systemic within our Universities. As college students, we are afforded the opportunity to experience living, learning, and the exposure of culture from people of varying backgrounds. This type of situation may be representative of a so-called microcosm of the entire United States, as if a tiny group of students were plucked from varying regions of the US and all plopped down here at the U. Now, this may yield results in that these cultures will blend, learn from one another and coexist without any tensions or strife. Conversely, this tiny group or microcosm all plopped down here at the U, could also yield results in that, all the individuals from their differing regions also bring along their preconceived notions of race and this environment only perpetuates already established racial tensions that have been engrained, even before being exposed to different cultures. Unfortunately, for us, the latter exists. It exists because of the matrix of domination that Ore had touched on earlier. In our society, I have noticed that when wronged by someone, even something as trivial as talking too loud in a group setting, it is our immediate reaction to associate that wrongdoing with the person’s race. For example, “Freakin’ Asian cut me off,? its okay people, I am Asian. On the flip side, if a White person were to cut you off, you would just think they’re an idiot, which is due to them lacking noticeable physical characteristics. As bigoted as it sounds, I too, have caught myself participating in this unjust snapshot judgment. Which goes to say, that race is quite possibly the easiest way to attack and establish a sense of superiority.

As students, we all differ, in majors, races, age, etc. which all separate us into categories. It is these categories of difference, that superiority complexes are established. For example, in our society, one’s major is often an assessment of their intellectual capacity. In the Science Classroom Building commodes, I noticed someone had engraved “CLA Arts Major Degree Dispenser,? and it had an arrow pointing towards the toilet paper. In situations such as these, a degree say in Microbiology is seen as more “intelligible? than that of a Liberal Arts degree. Who’s to say which is more important, I am not here to judge, but I do believe that this just serves as another wedge to further complicate our matrix of domination.

Ore also explains, that you can see Black students coming together on campus as both an “ethnic? pull of wanting to be together to share common experiences and community, and a “racial? push of banding together defensively because of perceived rejection and tension from Whites. I believe that Ore is absolutely correct in these assumptions about race. Although Blacks are being singled out for some reason, this notion of assimilation and disbanding is universal to any minority. Therefore, when these groups are seen on campus, stereotypes and assumptions about them are only reinforced. For minorities, it is a constant struggle between being accepted by Whites, but not appearing to betray your ethnic roots. At the same time, we struggle with the assimilation of our race, but must not completely remove ourselves from other cultures by simply excluding anyone who is not of our race.

Comments

To Justin's comment. I too took this class to broaden my experience and attempt and understand the racist policies in the United States. But upon entering the classroom, I was instantly nocked down. Being a white male, I constantly felt like the villain of the classroom. I found myself evaluating my life and a lot of my actions to see if I too was as racist and "powerful" as the white male is described. It was hard at times to say comments on what I see due to fear of negative responses from other students and the professor. So I also agree that in the class we masked some of our true feelings and comments, but I still feel like I have grown a lot from this experience and in no way feel as though my experience was "stunted".

The intricacies of judgement are inescapable to SOME extent. Our eyes notice differences to clarify similarities. The bigotry in society can be compared to the designing of a dining room. There are certain forms and shapes that my girlfriend and I want in a table, but it must be made of wood, not metal and glass. Once we have this centerpiece, all other things must revolve around them. When you consider the formulation of a society-which usually stems from the cultural/religious group that first settled- the pieces that the initial seed-group wish to build around their dinner table should comfortably match their hearth: their culture, religion, and yes, skin color. I am not saying that this is human nature, I am pointing out that in the history of civilization, differences, regardless of their true character or lack thereof, are easily recognized whether they lead to discrimination, or harmony. These instances build and build until we find ourselves at the present time. Here, we describe person's skin color to the police as a first inclination to the crime. Is there a better way? Maybe. But the fact that my black friends have gotten pulled over 3 times more than I have, and have less speeding tickets, is a travesty that has stemmed from the fault of humanity to observe and infer- to observe a color of skin, and infer that the color means X based on what the viewer sees in the news (ie: exploitation of crime in dominantly minority comunities more so than in dominantly white communities). We are PUSHED away from seeing color by our parents and courses such as this, while eventually being PULLED back into labeling by the media, the police, and the people calling asians bad at driving- the ignorant.

I also felt that Ore's observations on racial separation on campus was spot on. I am one who tends to observe those around me, their mannerisms, who they talk to, and how groups act/interact with each other. I have also noticeed this racial polarization occurs not only in the University setting after a late night at the bar, but, in a more subtle way, in our very own class room. It is surprising to me that at a "liberal" university that such social segregation is noticeable. This is my first semester at a state school and my personal experience of being schooled in private institutions where 95 percent or more of the students where white, lead me to want to enroll in this particular class. i was looking forward to taking a class where "taboo" topics on race could be talked about openly, challenging my opinions and preconceived notions. I was looking forward to personal growth and being a part of a group of young men and women coming to their own realizations together. however the clear racial/cultural lines seen in our class cheapens the experience. I fell that we talk about racial issues as though they are happening outside of the class room. that when we enter lecture we are some how removed from our cultural "pushes" and "pulls." until we acknowledge the "race relations" in the class i feel that we are just hypocrites and stunting our own growth.